Sunderland qualified for the second round of the FA Cup with a seventh win in a row after a 2-1 victory, thanks to goals from George Honeyman and Lynden Gooch.
Honeyman opened the scoring within the first minute and Gooch doubled the lead in the first half. Port Vale’s captain Tom Pope got a goal back for his side late in the half to open the game up. The lads managed to hold on for the win despite a much improved second half from the home side.
Sunderland faced Port Vale for the first time in 20 years, The Black Cats came out 2-0 winners as they went on to gain promotion into the Premier League.
Port Vale were in good form and were unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions and have kept four clean sheets in that run. Their run sees the Valiants sit in 13th in the League Two table and six points from the playoffs.
This was the sixth meeting in the FA Cup between the two sides, the last outing was in 1992 where Sunderland went on to reach the final.
Jack Ross made only one change to the side who beat Plymouth as Jerome Sinclair replaced Josh Maja up top. Max Power was back from suspension but only found a place on the bench. Bryan Oviedo was also back on the bench following an injury.
Barring Maja, it was about as strong a team as Ross could have put out which showed how much he was taking the competition seriously.
With 40 seconds on the clock, Sunderland got off to a brilliant start. Following a throw-in from Adam Matthews it dropped to Chris Maguire who picked out George Honeyman 25 yards out. The skipper picked out the bottom corner with a beautiful finish. His effort was placed to perfection and exactly the start Jack Ross will have been looking for.
Sunderland doubled the lead in brilliant fashion with a fine strike from Lynden Gooch. Sinclair did well to hold the ball up in the box and let Gooch take over, off balance the American turned and fired it expertly into the bottom left corner.
Following the goals Sunderland were oozing with confidence, credit must go to Jack Ross who had got his men well drilled and hadn’t let Port Vale get ahead early and create a potential cup shock.
Sunderland should have been three up within 25 mins, Adam Matthews played a fine through ball to Maguire who had Sinclair waiting to tap it home. The Scot’s pass was poor and went way over the striker’s head.
With such a strong team out the game was going as expected, but it really was a joy to watch a Sunderland and side playing with so much confidence and swagger.
Against the run of play Port Vale got right back into the game with a great goal from Tom Pope. The early substitute, Emmanuel Oyeleke drove at the heart of the Sunderland defence and found a gap towards, Pope who curled it past Jon McLaughlin into the far corner.
After half an hour of relatively one-way traffic, Sunderland had a game on their hands. The away side were guilty of switching off and letting the Vale get a route back into the game.
Sunderland almost ended the half with the two-goal advantage restored. Reece James fired it into Gooch on the edge of the box and he fired towards goal, his effort flashed just wide of the post.
The home side dominated the early stages of the second half. Leon Legge’s long throws produced all sorts of problems for the Sunderland back line and caused chaos in the box.
On the counter, Port Vale almost equalised after a great run from Ben Whitfield. He managed to breeze in-between Dylan McGeouch and Jack Baldwin and tried to beat McLaughlin at the near post but only found the side netting.
The game had really opened up with both sides playing attacking football and looking to add a fourth goal of the game. Vale were much improved from the opening 30 minutes of the game and were a bigger threat.
Neil Aspin’s team were furious that they weren’t given a penalty. It looked as if Jack Baldwin had slid in and fouled Luke Hannet but referee Anthony Backhouse thought there wasn’t enough contact in the challenge to bring him down. It looked as if Baldwin had got away with one as he was very rash to slide in.
Ross was keen to add a third and kill the game off, he brought on Max Power and Josh Maja to add more of a goalscoring threat to the side.
Aiden McGeady almost added a third as he was sent through by Honeyman. The Irishman took the shot early and was easy for Scott Brown in the Vale goal. He took his shot very early and could have taken another touch.
With ten minutes to play, McGeady did brilliantly down the left and picked out Honeyman free at the back stick. He hit it first time but was palmed away by Brown. It was a great chance to seal the win but just didn’t get enough power on the shot.
Somehow Port Vale weren’t level as substitute Miller shot deflected to Pope ten yards out. His effort was well saved by McLaughlin who stood firm to deny the striker.
Final Score: 2-1
ALS Man of the Match: George Honeyman